Fleetwood Mac And Other Aging Rock Bands

by Noiz 21. October 2014 20:31

Fleetwood Mac And Other Aging Rock Bands

On Oct. 18, at the end of a Fleetwood Mac concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Mick Fleetwood proclaimed “The Mac Is Back.”

Despite the fact that Fleetwood Mac toured in 2013, Mick is one-hundred percent correct.  The band has been restored to its classic lineup thanks to the return of Christine McVie (nee Perfect). 

McVie left the group in 1998 partly due to an intense fear of flying.  That’s not the phobia to have if you’re a member of a band that performs all over the world.  She has since overcome her aversion to aviation and rejoined the band.

Nostalgia
Are Fleetwood Mac concerts nothing but nostalgia?  Well, they haven’t released an album since 2003 (Say You Will) and only three since 1990 (Behind the Mask in 1990 and Time in 1995).  So yeah, you can say their concerts are all about the past.

Does anyone really care (minus rock snobs)?  Don’t we want Fleetwood Mac to play all of their hits, the ones they made famous in the 1970s?

You buy Fleetwood Mac tickets not to experience the vanguard of rock and roll but to return to the halcyon days when Rumours permanently resided on your turntable.

Another way of saying what I’ve been saying is Fleetwood Mac is old. 

How old are they?  And while we’re at it, how old are other classic rock bands? 

We all know they’re old but have any of us ever crunched the numbers?

Quick Note
For the purpose of this article, when I allude to a band’s beginning I’m referring to the year they released their first record (usually a single), not the year they formed or played their first gig.  Also, I only looked at bands that are either still around or have demonstrated that they can still tour (despite being down a man or two).  So The Beatles and Doors are out but Aerosmith and Pearl Jam are not.

Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac began in 1967.  That means they are 47 years old or nearly four times as old as The Black Keys (who began in 2002). 

Fleetwood Mac will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2017.

Mick Fleetwood has been in the band the longest.  In fact, he’s the only original member left.  The classic lineup—Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks—has only been around since 1974.  That’s when Buckingham and Nicks joined.  Christine McVie came aboard in 1970.

So the classic lineup of Fleetwood Mac is older than Journey (1975), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976), Van Halen (1978), and The Pretenders (1979). 

It’s feasible that Fleetwood Mac will launch a 50th anniversary tour.  It’s a long shot if the band commemorates the same milestone for their classic lineup.  I say that because the classic lineup doesn’t turn 50 until 2024.

Since I mentioned 2024… that’s the year Justin Bieber and Harry Styles will exit their twenties; the debut albums of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore will turn 25; and Nelly will enjoy his 50th trip around the sun.

Surprisingly, the oldest member of Fleetwood Mac is Christine McVie.  She was born on July 12, 1943.  When the Fleetwood Mac tour concludes on March 31, 2015, in Wichita, Kansas, she’ll be 71.  That makes her three times older than Ed Sheeran, Hunter Hayes, and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction.

Rolling Stones
Of course, Fleetwood Mac isn’t the only band nearing the half-century mark.  The Rolling Stones turned 50 in 2013.  They celebrated the achievement with a three-leg, 30-concert tour of Europe and North America. 

The Rolling Stones released their first single in 1963.  That’s the same year Seal, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Bret Michaels and half of Metallica (James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich) were born.

I should tell you that the Stones mark their birthdate as July 21, 1962—their first gig.  Like I mentioned before, I’m counting from the release date of their first record which was June of 1963.  Either way, the band has been around for half a century.

The three remaining original members of the Stones—Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts—are in their seventies.  He’s no longer in the band, but bassist Bill Wyman, who joined the Stones before Watts did, was born on Oct. 24, 1936.  At the time of writing this article he was three days shy of his 78th birthday.

Ronnie Wood (born on June 1, 1947) joined the Stones in 1975 but didn’t become a full member until 1993.  That means Wood has been a bona fide member of the Stones longer than Weezer, Limp Bizkit, Wilco, The Black Eyed Peas, and Coldplay have been bands.

The Who
In 2015, The Who will celebrate their 50th anniversary with a jaunt around North America.  They actually eclipsed the big 5-0 in 2014. 

There are only two original Who members left, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.  When they conclude what they’re calling their final concert tour, both men will be in their seventies.

Both the Rolling Stones and The Who predate .mp3s by 30 years, iTunes by more than 35 years, and American Idol by nearly 40 years.  When The Stones and Who first started making music, television was still broadcasted in black and white, AM stations dominated terrestrial radio, and multi-track recording devices were in their infancy.

Other Classic Rockers
The Beach Boys experienced their 50th anniversary in 2011.  Three years later, the honor fell to The Kinks.  Three years from now, it’s Pink Floyd’s turn although it’s doubtful we’ll see them tour.  But, who knows, time does heal all wounds.

In 2019, Led Zeppelin and Santana will both turn 50.  The following year ZZ Top joins the half century club.  I’d expect celebratory tours from all three of those bands.

In 2022, the E Street Band turns 50.  Also reaching our numerical milestone that year will be the Eagles.

In 2023, Aerosmith will have been the “Bad Boys from Boston” for five decades.

Will we still be rocking in the future? 

In 2024, a decade from now, look for 50 candles on cakes belonging to KISS and AC/DC.  By then, both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons will be in their seventies.  Angus Young will be 69. 

The Next Generation
In 2015, U2 turns 35.  That’s not 50 but it’s still impressive especially since the band has all of its original members.

Other bands that began in the early 1980s and will soon reach the 35-year mark include R.E.M. (1981), Phish (1983), Metallica (1983), Bon Jovi (1983), and Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984).

The year 1991 begat Pearl Jam.  They’ll hit the quarter century mark in 2016.

For some reason, this band’s age is the most surprising.  That’s probably because their sound is so associated with youth and youthful ideas.  In 2015, Green Day will be 25 years old.  It’s hard to believe that America’s greatest punk band is nearly old enough to pay for their own health insurance.

Be prepared for 2061.  That’s the year One Direction turns 50.

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The Who And Their 50th Anniversary Timeline

by Noiz 17. October 2014 11:28

The Who And Their 50th Anniversary Timeline

It’s little sad.  Roger Daltrey calls The Who’s upcoming North American tour “the beginning of the long goodbye.”  Okay, maybe it’s not that sad.  The Who have had a pretty good run, and they’re definitely well beyond their prime.  Still, it pulls at the heart strings when one of the all-time greats hangs them up (or at least threatens to).

The Who are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a lengthy trip around the New World.  The first leg begins April 15 in Tampa, Florida and ends May 30 in Forest Hills, New York.  The second leg commences Sept. 14 in San Diego and concludes Nov. 4 in Philadelphia.  If you combine both legs, The Who will be performing 38 concerts.

The Who have recorded a new track, their first in eight years, called “Be Lucky.”  You can find the new song on the double-disc, greatest hits collection, The Who Hits 50!  The album contains 41 of the band’s most important singles as well as the aforementioned “Be Lucky.”  The opus drops Oct. 27, 2014.

The Who is celebrating a half century of existence with a tour and a greatest hits collection.  Clickitticket is celebrating the historic occasion with a timeline chronicling the band’s major achievements through the years.  We start in 1964…

1964
In an effort to appeal to a mod audience, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon release “Zoot Suit” under the name The High Numbers.  The single bombs prompting the band to change their name to “The Who.”  They also acquired new management.

Notable Singles:
“Zoot Suit”

1965
The Who destroys their instruments on the British television program Ready, Steady, Go.  They also become very popular on U.K. pirate radio stations.  Late in the year, the band fires Daltrey.  He’s rehired under the condition that The Who becomes a democracy.  Hitherto, Daltrey had led The Who with an iron fist.

Notable Singles:
“I Can’t Explain”
“My Generation”

Albums:
My Generation

1966
The Who sees their recording contract with British Decca/Brunswick come to an end and a new one with Polydor begin.  In the United States, they still remain with Decca.  Producer Kit Lambert introduces Townshend to a wide range of classical music thus inspiring him to write “I’m a Boy.”

Notable Singles:
“The Kids Are Alright”
“Happy Jack”
“I’m A Boy” 

Albums:
Ready Steady Who (EP)
A Quick One

1967
The Who plays the Monterey Pop Festival, appears on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and tours the United States as the opening act for the Herman’s Hermits and Eric Burdon and the Animals.

Notable Singles:
“Pictures of Lily”
“I Can See for Miles”

Album:
The Who Sell Out

1968
Pete Townshend reads the works of Meher Baba for the first time.  Baba’s teachings inspire Townshend to compose the rock opera Tommy, which the band works on throughout most of 1968.  In December, The Who performs in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.  The Who blew the roof off of the proverbial circus tent, but the Stones didn’t like their set and the project was shelved until 1996.

Notable Singles:
“Magic Bus”

Albums:
Magic Bus: The Who On Tour (compilation)
Direct Hits (compilation)

1969
Basking in the commercial and critical success of Tommy, The Who performs at Woodstock for $13,000.  They take the stage at 5am on Sunday and play most of their new rock opera.  As if planned, the sun rises as the band performs “See Me, Feel Me.”  The Who didn’t enjoy their Woodstock experience (especially the interruption by Abbie Hoffman).  They’re happier with their performance at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Notable Singles:
“Pinball Wizard”
“I’m Free”

Album:
Tommy

1970
The Who are now mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  They are also viewed as the best live act in rock music.  The band tours to support Tommy and becomes the first rock band to ever play at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House.

Notable Singles:
“The Seeker”
“Summertime Blues”
“See Me, Feel Me”

Albums:
Live at Leeds (live)
Tommy (EP)

1971
John Entwistle becomes the first member of The Who to release a solo album (Smash Your Head Against the Wall).  Meanwhile, Townshend begins working on a project called Lifehouse, which is meant to be a multi-media project about the artist and his audience.  It’s soon scrapped for being too complicated.  The project’s collapse causes Townshend to have a nervous breakdown. 

Notable Singles:
“Won’t Get Fooled Again”
“Behind Blue Eyes”

Albums:
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (compilation)
Who’s Next

1972
The first part of the year is spent recuperating from a heavy touring schedule.  The rest of the year sees the band fighting.  Daltrey believes Townshend is getting pretentious and Townshend believes Daltrey is only in it for the money.  Also, a rift forms in the band over the effectiveness of their managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. 

Notable Singles:
“Baba O’Riley”
“Join Together”
“Relay”

1973
The Who cut ties with Lambert and Stamp and hire Bill Curbishley as their new manager.  The band launches a tour in late October that’s plagued by technical problems and internal squabbles.  Daltrey knocks out Townshend and Townshend publically berates the band’s sound man. 

Moon passes out during a concert in the United States.  After a break, Townshend asks the audience if anyone can play the drums.  Fan Scot Halpin volunteers and the concert continues.  In Montreal, Townshend, Moon, and Entwistle are arrested for trashing a hotel room.

Notable Singles:
“5:15”
“Love Reign O’er Me”

Album:
Quadrophenia

1974
The band works on a film version of Tommy.  Townshend and Entwistle supervise the soundtrack while Daltrey stars as “Tommy.”  Moon does little as he’s now living in Los Angeles. 

Notable Singles:
“The Real Me”
“Long Live Rock”

Album:
Odds & Sods (compilation)

1975
Tommy (film) debuts in March.  The movie and its soundtrack are well received by both critics and fans.  In December, The Who plays to a record crowd of 78,000 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, Michigan.

Single:
“Squeeze Box”

Albums:
The Who by Numbers
Tommy (soundtrack)

1976
The Who enters the Guinness Book of Records for loudest concert— they manage to rock at over 120 dB.  After their tour ends, the band takes a break.  During this time Townshend meets Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. The incident inspires Townshend to write the song “Who Are You.”

Notable Single:
“Slip Kid”

Album:
The Story of The Who (compilation)

1977
The Who performs at the Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn, London.  It’s their only performance of the year and one judged to be fairly poor.  Moon’s lack of fitness contributes to the poor gig and is the reason why 1977 transpires without a Who tour.

1978
On Sept. 7, Keith Moon dies from a drug overdose.  In November, the band hires Kenney Jones as his replacement. 

Notable Singles:
“Who Are You”
“Trick of the Light”

Album:
Who Are You

1979
The Who returns with concerts in England, France, West Germany, New Jersey, and New York City.  The band also celebrates the release of Quadrophenia (film).  The movie stars Sting.  The documentary The Kids Are Alright is also released. 

During the last month of the year, The Who becomes the third rock band (after The Beatles and The Band) to adorn the cover of Time magazine.  On Dec. 3, 11 people are crushed to death at a Who concert at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Notable Singles:
“Long Live Rock”
“5:15”

Albums:
The Kids Are Alright (soundtrack)
Quadrophenia (soundtrack)

1980
Daltrey stars in the film McVicar and works on the soundtrack.  From March through July, The Who embarks on their second tour without Keith Moon.

Album:
McVicar (soundtrack)

1981
The Who tours England and Scotland.  Then on March 28 they appear on West German television (Rockpalast).

Notable Single:
“You Better You Bet”

Albums:
Face Dances
Phases (compilation)
Hooligans (compilation)

1982
Townshend overcomes his brief heroin addiction.  The band also launches a 40-date trek of North America that’s billed as their last.  Their opening act is The Clash.

Notable Singles:
“Athena”
“Eminence Front”

Album:
It’s Hard

1983
Townshend tries to write material for a new Who album but is unable to come through.  He works on solo material instead. 

Single:
“It’s Hard”

Albums:
Who’s Greatest Hits (compilation)
Rarities Volume I & Volume II (compilation)

1984
Roger Daltrey releases his fifth studio album, Parting Should Be Painless.  It bombs.

Single:
“Twist and Shout”

Albums:
Who’s Last (live)
The Singles

1985
The Who reunites to perform at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium.

Albums:
Who’s Missing (compilation)
The Who Collection (compilation)

1986
Daltrey appears in the television series Buddy.

1987
In July, a limited edition Pete Townshend Rickenbacker guitar goes on sale. 

Album:
Two’s Missing (compilation)

1988
The Who is honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Brit Awards.  They perform at the ceremony.  It’s the second-to-the-last gig Kenney Jones plays with the band.

Albums:
Who’s Better, Who’s Best (compilation)
Won’t Get Fooled Again (EP)

1989
The Who reunites to celebrate their 25th Anniversary.  Due to tinnitus, Townshend doesn’t play lead guitar, only acoustic.  Simon Phillips is tapped to play the drums.  While fans flock to see the Who, critics don’t like the fact that they’re backed by a cadre of musicians. 

1990
The Who is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Album:
Join Together (live)

1991
The Who records “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” for an Elton John and Bernie Taupin tribute album.   It’s the last studio recording by The Who to feature Entwistle.

1992
Daltrey performs “I Want It All” at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

1993
Townshend releases the concept album Psychoderelict.  He also releases a book The Who’s Tommy about the Broadway version of his rock opera.

1994
Daltrey celebrates his 50th birthday with a pair of concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York City.  Entwistle and Townshend also appear and all three join together during a performance of “Join Together.”

Album:
Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (compilation)

1995
Entwistle appears with Ringo Starr's All Starr Band.

1996
The Who performs Quadrophenia at Hyde Park in London for the Prince’s Trust.  The shows are well received and the three eventually hold a six-night stand at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  The concerts lead to a full-fledge concert tour.  It begins Oct. 13 in Portland, Oregon.

Album:
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 (live)
My Generation: The Very Best of the Who (compilation)

1997
The Who continues their 1996 tour with a European leg and another jaunt around North America.

1998
VH1 releases a list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  The Who places ninth.

1999
The Who plays a series of one-off concerts as a five-piece band—Zak Starkey on drums and John Bundrick on keyboards.  Their Las Vegas show was broadcasted on television and the internet.  They also play Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit, the House of Blues in Chicago, and two charity shows at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London.

Album:
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Who (compilation)

2000
The Who, again as a five-piece outfit, launch a four-leg, 38-show tour of North America and Europe.  Although not officially part of the tour, their outing begins with a charity concert in New York City.  It ends with a charity performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Albums:
BBC Sessions (live)
Blues to the Bush (live)

2001
The Who are honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  In October, they play The Concert for New York City.

2002
On June 27, on the eve of the band’s North American tour, John Entwistle is found dead at a Las Vegas hotel.  He died from a heart attack induced by cocaine.  Townshend and Daltrey decide the show must go on.  Fortunately, they are able to secure the talents of bassist Pino Palladino.  They rehearse for two days and began the tour on July 1 in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl.  The final Who concert of 2002 occurs Sept. 28 in Toronto.

Album:
The Ultimate Collection (compilation)

2003
Townshend is placed on the sex offenders register for five years after admitting he used his credit card to visit a site that offered access to child pornography.  It’s later revealed that Townshend didn’t visit any child porn sites.

Album:
Live at the Royal Albert Hall (live)

2004
The Who undertake a three-leg, 18-show tour which features their first ever performances in Japan and their first shows in Australia since 1968.  On their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, Rolling Stone magazine ranks The Who at 29.

Single:
“Real Good Looking Boy”

Albums:
Then and Now (compilation)
The 1st Singles Box (compilation)

2005
The Who performs an acoustic set at a charity concert in New York City.  They also perform at Live 8.  On his blog, Townshend posts a novella, The Boy Who Heard Music.  The prose inspires the mini-opera “Wire & Glass.”  The band is inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame.

2006
Zak Starkey is invited to join The Who.  He declines so he can play for both The Who and Oasis.  On June 7, The Who begins a massive tour to support Endless Wire. 

Notable Singles:
“Wire & Glass”
“It’s Not Enough”

Albums:
Endless Wire
Live from Toronto (live)
Wire & Glass (EP)

2007
On Oct. 6, The Who concludes a 112-concert tour that began in 2006.  The Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who (documentary film) is released. 

Album:
View from a Backstage Pass (live)

2008
The Who performs at the Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit concert in London, VH1 Rock Honors in Los Angeles, and Rock Band 2 launch party (also in L.A).  The Who kicks off a modest world tour on Oct. 21.  Their route includes stops in Japan.

Album:
Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who (soundtrack)

2009
The Who continues the tour they started in 2008 with seven shows in Oceania and another appearance at the Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit.  The Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who receives a Grammy nomination.

Album:
Greatest Hits (compilation)

2010
The Who rocks the halftime show at Super Bowl XLIV.  On March 30, The Who performs Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust Concert.

Albums:
Greatest Hits Live (live)
Greatest Hits & More (compilation)

2011
The Who plays four songs at the Killing Cancer Benefit in London at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Albums:
Icon (compilation)
Icon 2 (compilation)

2012
The Who is the final act at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.  They also play 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief.  Their “Quadrophenia and More” tour begins Nov. 1 in Sunrise, Florida.

Albums:
Live at Hull (live)
Pinball Wizard: The Collection (compilation)

2013
The Who wraps up their “Quadrophenia and More” tour on July 8.  In October, Townshend tells the media that The Who will tour for one more time in 2015.

2014
Kenny Jones plays with The Who in June at a charity concert.  Later in the year, The Who releases their itinerary for their “The Who Hits 50!” tour.  The sojourn gets underway in late November in Abu Dhabi.

Single:
“Be Lucky”

Albums:
Quadrophenia: Live In London (live)
The Who Hits 50! (compilation)

2015
The Who launches the “final” tour of their career on April 15.  It ends Nov. 4 in Philadelphia. 

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Melissa Etheridge Banned From Book Store For Being Too Sexy

by Noiz 12. October 2014 19:40

Melissa Etheridge Banned From Book Store For Being Too Sexy

During her upcoming tour, you’ll be able to hear any song Melissa Etheridge wishes to play.  The singer-songwriter kicks off a 25-date trek of the U.S. on Nov. 2.  It ends Dec. 12.  Look for Etheridge to perform all over the country including venues in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Houston, and Los Angeles.

When the curtain goes up, you can rest easy that the “Man” won’t be there to unplug her amp or silence her microphone.  You can’t say the same thing when you’re inside the walls of a certain retailer.  You see, Melissa Etheridge has recently encountered the “B word.”  And by that, I mean her music has been banned.

Fight the power!  Speak truth to power!  Melissa Etheridge fans united will never be divided!

Here’s the reason why my fist is in the air and I’m not going to take it anymore: bookstore chain Barnes & Noble has banned Melissa Etheridge’s music from their stores.

I know it’s hard to believe that Barnes & Noble, or any bookstore for that matter, is still in business, but it should not take a stretch of the imagination to believe that the Fortune 500 company has banned Etheridge’s music from playing in all of their 661 retail stores.

Okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration.  They’ve only banned ONE of her songs (and they’re still selling her products).

"I've been banned from Barnes & Noble... They said, 'We'll play the whole album, but we won't play that song'.” — Melissa Etheridge

To further squash my righteous indignation, Ms. Etheridge is fine with it.  She completely understands the bookseller’s point of view.

“I have eight-year-old kids and I don't want to have my kids walk into Barnes & Noble, into the kids' section, and hear some lusty lady singing about her thighs...” — Melissa Etheridge

The song in question is “All The Way Home” from the heartland singer’s latest album This Is M.E.—the opus dropped Sept. 30.  Apparently, the track is something of a lesbian sex anthem.  The largest book retailer in the United States and Etheridge both agree that it’s not appropriate for young ears.

Kudos to Etheridge for using some good, old-fashioned common sense and not overreacting like I did in the beginning of this article.  This isn’t the end of free speech.  This isn’t a case of unabashed censorship.  It’s just the sagacious recognition that not everything is appropriate all the time.

If there was an attempt to ban “All the Way Home” from Melissa Etheridge’s upcoming tour, or current album, then we’d have a legitimate reason for outrage and exasperation. 

In this day and age of knee-jerk reactions, and blind rushes to judgment, it’s nice to learn about an artist, and a publically traded company, exhibiting some responsible acumen. 

Still, “All The Way Home” falls into the frighteningly large category of banned songs.  Sadly, most banned songs haven’t been excluded from play with the same wisdom as Etheridge’s sexy ditty.  Some bans are the product of ignorance while some defy explanation.  Fortunately, banning songs seldom ever works.  A ban usually brings far more attention to a piece of music then had the detractors just left it alone.  

BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC, has banned a number of songs from its radio and television stations and have done so for years.  They’ve banned songs for a variety of reasons including language, sexual content, references to drug use, politics, mentioning commercial products, and being too maudlin.  They’ve also banned pop versions of classical music.

Some of the songs the BBC has banned have included “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Monster Mash,” and “Teen Angel.”  Those are not exactly airs that come to mind when you hear the term “banned.”

The BCC also banned the theme song from the movie The Man with the Golden Arm.  That was an interesting banishment since the theme is an instrumental.  It was barred because it came from one of the first Hollywood films to seriously tackle drug addiction. 

The BCC claims it no longer bans songs from its airwaves and has reinstated several pieces of music that have been previously prohibited from broadcast.  However, in 2013, after the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the song “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead” surged up the charts.  The BBC did not play the song during its countdown show.

Clear Channel
In 2001, in response to the terror attacks of 9/11, Clear Channel Communications sent out a memorandum to its 1,200 radio stations that contained a list of songs deemed “questionable.”  Clear Channel said they didn’t ban any song but just suggested to their employees that they don’t play them.  I’ve worked for Clear Channel and the list was NOT a suggestion.

Obviously, decency and common sense should have prevented disc jockeys from spinning a song like Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash into Me” or AC/DC’s "Shot Down in Flames" in immediate wake of the attacks.  I’ll admit there was a gray area between an appropriate period of mourning and the much needed return to normal.  Despite the temporal ambiguity, banning songs seemed reactionary and a little oversensitive.  We needed to embrace freedom, not squash it.

By the way, songs banned by Clear Channel included: "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," “Mack the Knife,” "Walk Like an Egyptian," "Daniel," “Ironic,” and "99 Luftballons."  Every song by Rage Against the Machine as well as every version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” were also prohibited.

“Love Is A Good Thing”
If any artist knows how Melissa Etheridge feels it’s Sheryl Crow.  Both lady rockers had run-ins with huge retailers.  In Crow’s case it was the world’s largest retailer.  Walmart banned Crow’s 1996 self-titled album from their shelves.  They banned the record over one song, “Love Is a Good Thing.”

The track contained the lyric: "watch our children while they kill each other with a gun they bought at Wal-Mart discount stores.”  For some reason, Wal-Mart took exception to Crow’s words. 

Crow’s record company was furious and the artist worried that her friends and family in Missouri wouldn’t be able to purchase the oeuvre (What! No free copies, Sheryl?).  At that time, Wal-Mart had already surpassed record stores in album sales.

“Street Fighting Man”
The Rolling Stones released “Street Fighting Man” in the United States on Aug. 31, 1968.  Nowadays, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards believe their classic carol is rather meaningless, but in 1968 it was the most politically charged work of their career.  Radio stations in Chicago, host of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, refused to play the single due to fears of additional rioting.  The embargo delighted the Stones.

"I'm rather pleased to hear they have banned [“Street Fighting Man”]. The last time they banned one of our records in America, it sold a million." — Mick Jagger

“Walk On”
In 2000, if you tried to import U2’s album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, into Burma you would have faced a prison term of up to 20 years—and you thought Pop was criminal.  The reason the Burmese government came down so hard on U2’s tenth studio collection is because of the song “Walk On,” which the country also banned.  U2 dedicated the song to pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.  At the time, Suu Kyi was under house arrest.

 The Mild and The Innocent
Several songs that are seemingly beyond benign have received banishment from radio stations (at least a few of them).  Here’s a collection of songs that are routinely played on soft rock stations… 

>>John Denver’s “Rock Mountain High,” one of Colorado’s two state songs, was banned by a bunch of radio stations in the 1970s because it was believed to promote drug use.  The ban was lifted after Denver, who has worked with such subversive entities as The Muppets, said the word “high” had nothing to do with drugs.  In 1985, Denver testified before Congress about the meaning of his song (apparently the lawmakers had nothing better to do).

>>Olivia Newton-John is on the short list to receive the honorific title “Queen of Adult Contemporary.”  That legacy was in jeopardy in 1981 when she released the racy single “Physical.”  Racy if you’re from Victorian England.  Thanks to sexually charged lyrics like “There's nothing left to talk about unless it's horizontally" some radio stations actually banned the song—cause you know, “horizontally” is such a sexy word.  The single spent ten weeks at number one.

>>Jimmy Boyd recorded “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” in 1953.  He was 13.  The single immediately caught the ire of the Roman Catholic Church in Boston and it was banned.  The ban was lifted after Boyd explained that “mom” wasn’t being a skank; she was just observing the custom of kissing someone standing under a sprig of mistletoe.

>>Nearly 20 years later, Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” raised the dander of the same religious organization.  Joel didn’t mind as the well-intended efforts to ban his jingle about trying to get into the pious pants of “Virginia” helped push the single up the charts.  Later, the piano man reminded the offended that in the tune he doesn’t get anywhere with the chaste school girl.

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Steve Wonder Isn’t Blind Says Conspiracy Theorists

by Noiz 8. October 2014 06:32

Steve Wonder Isn’t Blind Says Conspiracy Theorists

I love conspiracy theories, but I don’t think any of them are true.

Let me explain exactly what I mean. 

I believe in conspiracies.  Two dudes that share half a dozen wine coolers and make plans to produce an electronic, funk, dubstep, grindcore, rock opera have committed a conspiracy (not that I would know anything about that).  But those aren’t the kind of conspiracies I’m referring to when I say “I love conspiracy theories.”

The conspiracy theories I’m referring to are the biggies: CIA conspiring to assassinate JFK, NASA faking the moon landing, the government covering up an alien crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. 

Rock and Roll Conspiracies
Not to be left out, rock and roll has its own conspiracy theories: Paul McCartney died in 1966 in a car crash, Jimi Hendrix was killed by an FBI counterintelligence program, Courtney Love murdered Kurt Cobain, and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was murdered by his handyman (anyone sensing a theme here?).

I don’t believe in the veracity of any of the above “conspiracy theories.”  While incredibly fun and immensely interesting, they are based more on human fragilities then they are on reliable evidence.  They tell more about the believers’ psychoses then they do about historical events, popular music or otherwise.

Seeing Is Believing
Recently, I learned of another conspiracy theory that really outshines the aforementioned rock myths.  This one is better than Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite, Gene Simmons had a tongue transplant, and Jim Morrison is still alive.  The new rock and roll conspiracy is Stevie Wonder isn’t blind.

If it seems like a preposterous and insulting conspiracy theory, that’s only because it is.  Then again most conspiracy theories are preposterous and insulting.

The Evidence
The apparent smoking gun that proves Stevie Wonder has operational peepers is an incident where the legend approached Boy George at a party and playfully strangled him.  The Culture Club frontman asked, “How could Wonder know who I am if he’s blind?”

Surely, this is all the confirmation we need to believe the 64-year-old musician, who’s been blind since birth, is truly sighted.  I guess we can move on to bigger things like the real reason Beyoncé married Jay-Z.

Additional Proof
Maybe you’re one of those thick-headed types that need additional “proof.”  I don’t know why anyone would doubt the previously mentioned anecdote.  Who cares if Boy George was intoxicated and the story is a secondhand account or a secondhand account—the tale is obviously true.  No worries though, every good conspiracy theory is backed by at least a handful of spurious evidence.

>>At a White House performance, Stevie Wonder caught a microphone stand knocked over by the guy pretending to be Paul McCartney. 

>>During a performance on Oprah, Wonder extended his arm to hug a singer that was standing nearby.

>>ESPN personality Bomani Jones claims Wonder bought three plasma televisions (at the same time) from someone he knew.

>>Wonder attends basketball games, sits courtside, and follows the action.

>>Wonder nicked named professional basketball player Darryl Dawkins “Chocolate Thunder”—Dawkins claims Wonder can see. 

>>There’s a photograph of Wonder taking a picture of Michael Jackson at the Motown Museum.  Wonder is looking through the camera’s eyehole.

Detached Retinas
Stevie Wonder was born six weeks premature and placed in an oxygen-rich incubator.  This resulted in a condition where the blood vessels in the back of his eyes stopped growing.  This caused his retinas to stay detached.  In other words, he was rendered blind.

Or was he? (cue dramatic music).

The Great Pretender?
You’re probably asking why is Stevie Wonder pretending to be blind. 

The origin of the “I’m blind” ruse is as a boy Wonder had penchant for practical jokes.  Apparently, operating under the folly of youth, Wonder told people he was blind.  After a while, the joke stuck. 

Now, some will charge that Wonder’s blindness has nothing to do with selling records.  No one is going to buy or not buy a Stevie Wonder album just because he lacks the ability to see.  That’s definitely true of Wonder in the late 1960s and beyond, but not necessarily true early in his career.

Remember, his real name is Stevland Hardway Morris.  He was dubbed “Stevie Wonder” not necessarily because he was blind but because he was 11 years old and incredibly talented—“wonder” as in the “eighth wonder” of the world.

In his first four years as a recording artist, he had just two top 20 hits.  Granted, one of those two hits was “Fingertips – Part 1 & 2,” which went to number one in 1963.  In the beginning, producers didn’t know what to do with Wonder—his first studio album was completely instrumental. 
You can make the case, although I have no idea why you’d want to, that Wonder’s blindness was a boon (a way to separate himself from other artists) during the early stages of his career.

The Fallacy
All good conspiracy theories are built on a huge fallacy.  The huge fallacy in the “Stevie Wonder isn’t blind” conspiracy is all the assumptions about his behavior are made by people with functioning eyes. 

Who knows how Wonder perceives the world around him?  Who knows how much his other senses compensate for his lack of sight? 

It’s a little offensive to Wonder, and blind people in general, to claim that he can see just because he doesn’t live down to some people’s small idea of how a blind person should act.

Or maybe it’s a huge compliment that in the six-plus decades Wonder has been pretending to be blind the only major slip up was horsing around with Boy George.  Not once did he describe an object by a color, pointed to something across the room, or commented on the size of a passing woman’s “Motowns.”

Conspiracy theorists seem to forget about that time in 2002 when President Bush waived at Stevie Wonder while he was on stage and the 22-time Grammy Award winner didn’t wave back.  Or the time Wonder was being helped off a stage by Michelle Obama and they both tripped going down the stairs.  Those incidents are conveniently ignored. 

Hitting The Road
One thing you can’t ignore is Wonder’s upcoming tour.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has plotted an 11-date trek of North America.  His jaunt begins Nov. 6 in New York City at Madison Square Garden and ends Dec. 5 in Oakland, California at the Oracle Arena.

The other nine Stevie Wonder tour stops are Washington, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Toronto, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Auburn Hills.

This is Wonder’s first tour since 2009.

Songs in the Key of Life
For this outing, Wonder will be playing his classic 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life in its entirety.   Wonder has told fans that while he’ll be playing all 21 songs from SITKOL (including the tracks from the A Something’s Extra 7” EP) he won’t be playing them in order.

"It's not going to be exactly like the album. But it will work perfectly well for how it feels best live".  — Stevie Wonder

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